Sunday, November 15, 2009

Praise, Oh, Praise our God and King

A Paraphrase of Psalm 136
Praise, oh, praise, our God and King,
Hymns of adoration sing;
For His mercies still endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Praise Him that He made the sun
Day by day his course to run;
And the silver moon by night,
Shining with her gentle light;
For His mercies still endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Praise Him that He gave the rain
To mature the swelling grain;
And hath bid the fruitful field
Crops of precious increase yield;
For His mercies still endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Glory to our bounteous King,
"Glory", let creation sing:
Glory to the Father, Son,
And the Spirit, Three in One!
For His mercies still endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.
---Rev. Henry Baker, 1861; reformatted c.m.b. 2007

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Who Am I?

Dietrich Bonhöffer, a young [Lutheran] theologian of great promise [from the German state church], was martyred by the Nazis for his participation in a plot against the life of Adolf Hitler. His writings have greatly influenced recent theological thought. This article appeared in the Journal Christianity and Crisis, March 4, 1946. [Some Lutherans question the depth or expression of his Lutheran theology, but this is a moving poem, regardless.]
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God, I am Thine!*
----Dietrich Bonhoeffer; March 4,1946
*Because Jesus died on the cross for us